First Dance Songs: Slow And Weepy

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When I was a little kid I was doggedly unsentimental. I remember seeing Titanic for the first time in middle school and thinking it was sappy and stupid (and also, why was everyone obsessed with Leonardo DiCaprio?). So when I met and then fell in love with Michael, I found myself with all kinds of feelings that weren’t there before, and before I knew what hit me, I was enjoying things like The Notebook and crying during Jason Mraz’s sleepy love ballads. The process was both surprising and unsettling, but alas, here I am a decade later, with a bad case of the feels, and not ashamed of it.

When it comes to weddings, I love a sentimental slow-dance that makes me reach for a hankie. (Particularly as a guest. There’s nothing like swaying next to a friend’s grandparents who have been married for fifty-plus years to make you appreciate what the wedding is about.) For our own first dance, Michael and I did the clutch-and-sway to a song my uncle wrote for his brother about the simple happiness that comes from building a family together (hello again, tears). But in case you don’t have a family member whose music you can repurpose for your wedding, we’ve put together a first dance playlist (crowdsourced from your suggestions, with a few of my personal favorites thrown in) that is chock full of slow melodies and sappy lyrics that make me cry. This is also the first and last time Meg is going to allow me to put Michael Bublé on an APW-approved playlist (something about not making the readers’ ears bleed?), so for the twelve of you in the audience who also enjoy his music, let’s live this one up.

First Dance Songs: Slow & Weepy from practicalmaddie on 8tracks Radio.

  1. “Crazy Love” by Van Morrison
  2. “I’ll Follow You Into The Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie
  3. “Feels Like Home” by Chantal Kreviazuk
  4. “Forever” by Ben Harper
  5. “Heavenly Day” by Patty Griffin
  6. “Blackbird” by The Beatles
  7. “In My Life” by The Beatles
  8. “Open Arms” by Journey
  9. “Hold On” by Michael Bublé
  10. “La Vie En Rose” by Louis Armstrong
  11. “That’s All” by Nat King Cole
  12. “I’m Glad There Is You” by Ella Fitzgerald
  13. “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Elvis
  14. “Come Away With Me” by Nora Jones
  15. “Into The Mystic” by Van Morrison
  16. Bonus Track: “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”* by The Beach Boys

*Admittedly not a slow song, but this makes me cry whenever I hear it anyway.

**This post was sponsored by Monogamy Wines. Thank you Monogamy for helping make the APW mission possible!**

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  • Maddie, since I gave you a hard time about “At Last,” I want to make up for it by chiming in re: Michael Buble. Yes, some of his originals are a bit cliche, and you can make the argument that his covers are better left to those who sang them first. But the man has *such* a nice voice- ya gotta let him sing!

    • ART

      and! and! his SNL appearance(s?) indicates that he is a good sport and has a cute sense of humour (see “ham and bubbly” with John Hamm). So even though I never listen to his music (just not my type), I can’t help but think he is adorable.

  • Moe

    Our first dance was “Sunday Kind of Love” the second most overused song by Etta James. I was surprised that it was my husbands choice from my music collection because he said when he hears Etta it reminds him of me.


    • kate

      That’s what I’ve been suggesting as our first dance song. Are you happy with your choice? I can’t quite tell.

      I also didn’t know it was the second most used-overused.

      • Moe

        Yes, I was very happy with it! My musical tastes lean more towards soul, jazz and R&B. My husband is all about the Beatles and Korean Pop (which is a whole other story). So I was pleasantly surprised that he wanted one of “my” songs.

        Plus, my husband was not real comfortable dancing in front of everyone so a slow song like Sunday Kind of Love was easy for him to sway to.

        Imagine my surprise when he began to shuffle and slide on the dancefloor when the actual big day arrived!! There was a dancer in there all along!!!

  • Lindsey d.

    I am firmly and shamelessly in the loving Michael Buble camp… I’d recommend his “You and I” from “It’s Time” as a first dance song. Simple, sweet, and perfect for the non-dancers. A true stand-and-sway song.

    • Cleo

      Me too. I will sometimes listen and sing along to “Just Haven’t Met You Yet” while making dinner. Also I will dance around the kitchen.

  • Kristen

    We had a Motown theme to our music so our first dance was to Stand By Me. At first I was really disappointed we didn’t have a “song” and that we chose something so trite really. Until we practiced danced to it and really listened to the lyrics. It was honestly perfect and since its such a timeless song, we get to hear our wedding song all the time – bonus!

    Our runner up choice was Bridge Over Troubled Water. Maybe too tear-jerky but lyrically I think its such a wonderful message about relationships and support.

  • Angie

    We used “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys for my father-daughter dance — I think it might be even better for a couple’s first dance but my dad is the ultimate Beach Boys fan and it was the one we could agree on.

    My husband and I did our first dance to “Chances Are” – made popular by Cher and Peter Cetera, but my brother sang it for us and my cousin accompanied him. That’s a special memory that I wish I had on video!

  • carrie

    Dude(s), I Will Follow You Into the Dark will occasionally get me on the wrong day and I will sob.

    • I know, right!

    • Same here…

      • I walked down the aisle to an instrumental version of that song (piano), and I totally still tear up every time it comes on the radio.

    • That’s our slow dance in the living room and forget the world song. Reminds me so much of how in love with my husband I am.

      • This comment made me :) :) :) :)

  • This playlist makes me feel like that girl in “Mean Girls.” (“She doesn’t even GO here! – I just have a lot of feelings. . . “)

    We walked down the aisle to “In My Life,” and it gives me the happy weepies whenever I hear it now.

  • Bethany

    “Crazy Love” was our first dance song! My husband picked it out himself and it was a complete surprise to me. Perfect.

  • Can I get a collective deep sigh from everyone?

    This playlist makes me wish it was a little bit rainy here so I could cuddle up with my man and watch the rain drops while listening to it.

  • Ali S

    I love Feels Like Home! It was my choice for first dance song, but fiance and I decided to go with one that was more “us.” That will definitely be one played in the middle of the reception when all the emotions are over and I’m the weirdly crying bride.

  • Tamar

    Just adding support to the Michael Buble-induced swooning camp! That voice! That smiling-while-singing voice!

  • Tamar

    Also, I’m at work, so I can’t give the playlist a proper listen, but just reading through the titles gave me the chills and a serious case of teary eyes. <3

  • We are leaning more and more to “The Lover’s Waltz” by Jay Unger and Molly Mason. That or their recording of “Give Me Your Hand.”

  • Laura

    I am a lifelong Sarah McLachlan fan and we chose to dance to her song “Answer.” It isn’t crazy mushy, but is very sentimental and sweet, highlighting being there for the other person during hard times and it all being “worth it in the end.” When we got married, we had just gotten through a very stressful time that included family deaths, buying our first home (only to get laid off four months later), unemployment (me), and a horrible job (him). It was an extremely rocky point in our lives, but we got through it by supporting each other so the song hit close to home. Plus, we are terrible dancers and were completely content to just sway together like a couple of middle-schoolers :)

  • Kris

    We took rumba lessons, and used Michael Bublé’s version of “The way you look tonight”. We wanted the Sinatra version, but he doesn’t sing it as a rumba and that’s the only dance we seemed to be able to do, given our four left feet… haha. Anyway it was fun!

  • Abby J.

    We used the Civil Wars version of ‘Dance Me to the End of Love’. Great beat, and unusual choice. We used Into the Mystic by Van Morrison for my father-daughter dance with my dad (the world’s biggest Van Morrison fan) and he really appreciated the choice, it was sweet.

    • kate

      thought about this. lovely song.

  • Caroline

    Ours was “It’s Only Time” by the Magnetic Fields — all slow and sappy and weepy and awesome. (We had “The Book of Love,” also by the Magnetic Fields, as background music for a sappy photo slideshow. It would’ve also worked as a first dance song.)

  • AnneTherese

    I looove Patty Griffin and am so excited to see her included on this list!

  • E

    “In My Life” was our first dance song! We picked it because we love it, but also, TBH, because it’s extremely short, and we could only see swaying awkwardly in front of our family and friends with the four left feet between the two of us for so long. Recommended to other non-dancers!

    • Hypothetical Sarah

      We used “I Will” by the Beatles, which is also pretty short (maybe a minute and a half?). The band played it once for just the two of us and then looped and played it again for everyone to join us. It was an effective way to get people onto the dancefloor.

  • Olivia

    I’m gunna assume the Into the Mystic reference was because of moi? ;) We loved dancing to that as our first song, it was slow, but had some life to it!

  • We used “45 Years” by folk artist Stan Rogers. I put it on a CD that I made Jarak when we first got together. It’s been our song ever since.
    The Chorus goes:
    “And I just want to hold you closer than I’ve ever held anyone before
    You say you’ve been twice a wife and you’re through with life
    Ah, but Honey, what the hell’s it for?
    After twenty-three years you’d think I could find
    A way to let you know somehow
    That I want to see your smiling face forty-five years from now.”

    If that doesn’t sum up marriage, I don’t know what does.

    • Kat

      Not using this as a first dance, but such a great song for a slow dance another time in the evening.

  • Anonymous

    I’d love to see a playlist of songs from Musicals! God, I am such a nerd.

    • Amberella

      Right? Our first dance was “The Best of Times is Now,”from La Cage Aux Folles and it -always- makes me bawl (although it only starts off slowly). We sang it while we danced, and by the end everyone sang it with us.

    • The Family Jules

      Yes! How about Falling Slowly from Once? Okay so it’s originally from a movie. But either rendition is beautiful and makes me feel all lovey.

      • redpanda

        I love this song too, but i can tell if the lyrics are actually depressing?

  • SamiSidewinder

    Can ALL OF THOSE be our first dance songs? Can we have a first dance that goes on for…. How long was that? I lost track in all of the lovey-ness.

    I love that my partner and I already have a ‘song’ that we will dance to. But GAH, I want all those too! The Death Cab, The Patty, The Ben Harper, The Journey!!

    • I’m with you. I’d like a 30-minute first dance. Except, you know, everyone else would be mighty bored . . . and I might feel mighty awkward being in the spotlight for that long. Still.

  • We’re using Harvest Moon by Neil Young. Not sure if its slow and weepy but it sure brings tears to my eyes! Gah. I love this song!

  • Jade

    I’m pushing for either “I Won’t Dance” by Ella Fitzgerald/ Louis Armstrong or “The Origin of Love” from the movie Hedwig and the angry inch… But I may have to add “Come Away With Me” to the list.

  • Brenda

    It was the last dance, not the first, but the only slow song we played at our wedding was Tupelo Honey by Van Morrison. I did it for my mom, because she used to sing it to me when I was a baby, and also to let everyone know the evening was winding down.

    But as soon as it came on our parents and all our friends got out there with their husbands/wives and it was the sweetest thing ever.

    • Bethany

      I love that song! Van Morrison can do no wrong.

  • Yeahhh, I am definitely in the slow-and-weepy camp — and I must confess to loving all of these (yes, even Michael Buble)! A friend actually danced to The Beatles’ “In My Life” as his mother/son dance and I was a hot mess through the whole thing.

    My fiance and I have finally (finally) nailed down our weepy first dance song: “Hold Onto Hope Love” by Amy Stroup. I heard a few bars used as a promo for a little-seen dating show earlier this year, I’ll admit — and while I didn’t connect with the show, I couldn’t stop myself from googling to find that song. I knew I wanted something slow, romantic and weepy . . . and that fits the bill!

    Also, “I’ll Follow You Into the Dark” as a first dance song would make me ugly, ugly cry.

  • We included songs from Lori McKenna on our wedding playlist.

    I’m a big fan of “Witness To Your Life”

  • Awww, I love these! Ingrid Michelson does a nice version of “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” too, if you want an updated version.

    Also, my father-daughter dance was to Heavenly Day, which might sound creepy but it’s not, I promise. Just depends on the mindset when you listen to it. And, it’s about her dog which, for some reason, has also made me like the song more….

    • Kat

      the Ingrid Michelson version is chill inducing…it’s so bare and raw….such a great choice

  • Carolyn

    These are all so sweet. I walked down the aisle with my pops to Wouldn’t It Be Nice by the Beach Boys – it was so happy and sweet and joyful! I loved seeing everyone hum/sing along. It just made me HAPPY.

    Our not-really-weepy-but-still-so-cheesy first dance song was Love is Here to Stay, the Gershwin standard, duet version by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. The lyrics are so lovely, and, more importantly, the song is barely two and a half minutes long. So important for slow swaying in front of a crowd, no?

  • Tamar

    Speaking of slow and weepy first dance songs… I’ve been turning this topic over in my head for a couple months now, and not coming up with any answers. We’ll most likely be two-stepping our hearts out to a country band that a family friend plays in, but I just can’t think of any “country” songs that fit the slow and weepy ideal for the first dance and aren’t cheesy/ overplayed/ ridiculous. HELP!

    Does anyone have any ideas?

  • Holly Cole’s cover of I Want You is pretty spectacular.

  • Sarah

    Our first dance was “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” by Neutral Milk Hotel, and it’s one of my favorite wedding memories!

  • Manda

    So, I know I am super late to this party, but I wanted to chime in with a resounding YES to Michael Buble and Maddie’s sappy, slow playlist. I’m planning to walk down the aisle to “Come Away With Me.” My man is not 100% on board with my song selection, but I’m sure he’ll come around at some point. Our first dance song will be “Green Eyes” by Coldplay.

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  • We used “Open Arms” in a production of “Tony & Tina’s Wedding” I was in. I can’t hear it now without being overcome with the absolute cheesiness of that moment. Ah, the memories.

  • Doby

    For music from a new artist you might try “Here For You Now” by Steven Dobias from his Brand New Day Album.